The MLB 2014 First Year Player Draft begins Thursday at 7 p.m and the Mets hold the No. 10 pick. As Thursday’s early mock drafts illustrate, there is so much uncertainly in picks Nos. 4-9 that pinning down a likely target for the Mets at No. 10 is extremely difficult.
Even given their own well-defined preferences (which are not public), the Mets are subject to the whims of teams in front of them.
Baseball America – Forrest Wall 2B (Orangewood Christian HS, Winter Park, FL)
First, John Manuel’s comment:
In this scenario, the Mets have their pick of a college hitter they like (Turner), a college pitcher they like (Newcomb) and their wild-card favorite, Florida prep second baseman Forrest Wall. While they have strong conviction in Wall’s bat, he’d be the first high school second baseman ever drafted this high.
Wall is one of the players rising rapidly. Wednesday, Peter Gammons tweeted, “In very good HS hitter draft, love Forrest Wall (10th, Mets?), OF Braxton Davidson and 3B Michael Chavis in 1st round.” Remember, just a week ago, Gammons tweeted that Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede would not fall past the Mets at No. 10, so don’t take his projection too seriously, other than that he’s been around the business forever, and is extremely connected.
Manuel, by the way, was a guest on this week’s Mostly Mets podcast to discuss this draft. In discussing the high school hitters beyond Alex Jackson and Nick Gordon, who are both likely to go off the board in the top seven picks, he said of the Mets at No. 10: “I just think there’s too much risk there…. The high school bats fit better at 25-40.”
On Wall specifically, he’s “had shoulder problems – on both shoulders – I think they’ve both been dislocated. His most common comparison is Dustin Ackley. Does that make you excited or does that scare you?” Manuel said. Despite a productive 2011 in his debut season, Ackley, the second overall pick in 2009, is a career .245/.313/.357 hitter with Seattle and has moved out to left field for the Mariners.
There’s a two-fold reason teams do not usually take high school second baseman in the top half of the first round: signalling and profile. In terms of signal, high schools and college teams usually put their best overall athletes at shortstop and center field. Thus the signal in a HS second baseman is that he’s not even the best athlete on his own infield. Even excellent defensive third baseman were shortstops as amateurs (see: David Wright and Evan Longoria). In terms of profile, if he’s truly a second baseman, then he has to hit enough to play everyday to be a valuable MLB piece. Let’s say the bat is not quite good enough to be an everyday starter at second. Then he’s a nothing. Backup MLB middle infielders have to be able to hold their own at shortstop (Justin Turner and his ilk). So, there’s a very good reason high schoolers are not usually Top 10 draft picks.
The previous high for a HS 2B was the Red Sox selecting Gosuke Katoh in the second round at No. 66 overall, and paying him to avoid a UCLA commitment. Katoh is hitting a very modest .174/.295/.315 with 24 walks and 64 strikeouts in 47 games with Greenville as a 19-year-old in the SAL.
Manuel’s scenario has the Cubs drafting Oregon State OF Michael Conforto at No. 4, although Manuel says emphatically that if Conforto does not go at No. 4, he will not go 5, 6 or 7, and the next highest he can go is No. 8 to the Rockies. Manuel also goes slightly off the board immediately in front of the Mets in choosing guys with late helium who have risen rapidly late in the spring, tying the Rockies at No. 8 to C/OF Kyle Schwarber and the Jays at No. 9 to C Max Pentecost.
Neither Newcomb nor Turner fall far, as Manuel has the Brewers hopping on Newcomb, the LHP from Hartford at No. 12 and the Padres going after Turner, the NC State SS at No. 13. Jeff Paternostro of Amazin Avenue has seen Newcomb a bunch this spring and updated his writeup on him here.
ESPN.com – Trea Turner SS (NC State)
Keith Law’s comment:
I think Sean Newcomb stops here, but the Mets would take Trea Turner, Max Pentecost or Casey Gillaspie if Newcomb is off the board.
In Law’s draft, the Cubs select Conforto at No. 4, and with Aaron Nola off the board at No. 3, the Phillies select their next favorite college arm with Newcomb at No. 7. The Jay pop Kennesaw State C Max Pentecost at No. 9.
Law’s full writeup on Turner is here, but he’s a true premium speed guy. Law’s summary: “The lack of projection in Turner’s bat could hurt him come draft day, but at his best he’s an above-average shortstop who can change games with his speed.”
Baseball Prospectus/Perfect Game – Michael Conforto OF (Oregon State)
Turner could very well be the pick at this spot should be be available, but if not they’ll gladly take Conforto, one of the safer bets in the draft to enjoy a productive professional career.
This is basically the “safe” scenario all the way through the top 10, with all of the high schoolers like LHP Brady Aiken, RHP Tyler Kolek, SS Nick Gordon and C/OF Alex Jackson mixed with collegians RHP Carlos Rodon, RHP Aaron Nola, LHP Sean Newcomb, LHP Kyle Freeland and SS Trea Turner going in the first nine picks in front of the Mets. It’s plausible enough, but it almost seems too predictable this way. Some team is going to get creative in the Top 10.
MLB Draft Insider – Bradley Zimmer OF (USF)
Chris Crawford, who is shutting down MLB Draft Insider after this runthrough, (I believe to join ESPN full-time) writes:
This would sort of be the Mets “worst nightmare” as I think they would prefer Turner, Conforto or one of Freeland or Newcomb to be on the board. They get an awful nice consolation prize in Zimmer, however.
Crawford has the Cubs on Conforto at No. 4, the Phillies on Newcomb at No. 7 and the Jays on Turner at No. 9. His “big” rumor is Tyler Kolek, the massive HS RHP from Texas, dropping all the way to the Rangers at No. 11. This seems implausible, but someone has to fall.
CBSSports – Trea Turner, SS (NC State)
Jon Heyman takes a crack at a mock daft. Heyman doesn’t cover any amateur baseball, but he is well-connected. At the same time, he basically confesses in his introduction, that he’s borrowing the work of others. As h he writes, “Here’s how we see it (a dozen executives were talked to, and thanks to the writings of Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com and John Manuel of Baseball America for additional details):”
Turner (and Conforto and Newcomb) get to the Mets in Heyman’s scenario because the Cubs select C/OF Kyle Schwarber at No. 4 and the Blue Jays go after Tommy John-rehabber Jeff Hoffman of ECU at #9. Most of the mock drafts that have the Jays selecting Hoffman have them doing so at No. 11, that is after the Mets. That makes more sense — the Mets have not been especially tied to Hoffman, so the Jays would be better off picking their favorite healthy player at No. 9, and then Hoffman at No. 11, unless they think the Mets are heavy on Hoffman at No. 10.
Other Draft Reading
– At USA Today’s For The Win, Ted Berg talks to Peter Gammons with basic draft questions.
– At Fangraphs, Tony Blegino, a former professional scout takes you deep, very deep, into the process MLB teams use in creating their draft boards.
– At Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Whitaker examines the coattails effect for a top draft prospect at a smaller school pulling his teammates up draft boards. It’s a cool piece of applied research. His conclusion: coattails exist, and there’s little evidence that they are harmful.